Digital Trade Agreements as a Strategy for Internet Governance



US policymakers want to encourage cross-border information flows with binding language in three potential trade agreements: the Trade in Services Agreement at the WTO, the Transpacific Partnership between the US and 11 other nations bordering the Pacific, and TTIP-the US/EU trade agreement trade agreement. The US is working to make the free flow of information the default for trade agreements and to set clear rules regarding how and when nations can restrict cross-border information flows without breaching their trade obligations. The US argues that by reducing barriers to trade and information, individuals, firms, and governments will find it cheaper to send and store information. More people will have access to information, which in turn can boost Internet operability, economic growth, and jobs. While other countries generally support US efforts to encourage cross-border information flows, many of America’s negotiating partners disagree on what constitutes a trade barrier. For example, USTR includes both privacy rules and the lack of privacy rules as trade barriers; but the EU insists that privacy should not be considered a trade barrier and cannot be discussed in negotiations. In another example, USTR cites Chinese data localization and security requirement as digital protectionism, but China argues that such policies are necessary to protect national security and stability. Our panelists will discuss why the US is trying to include binding rules governing digital trade and digital protection in its future trade agreements and what such rules mean for economic growth, digital rights, and Internet stability.


edaldenEdward Alden is the Bernard L. Schwartz senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), specializing in U.S. economic competitiveness. In addition, Mr. Alden is the director of the CFR Renewing America publication series and co-author of the recent CFR Working Paper Managing Illegal Immigration to the United States. The former Washington bureau chief of the Financial Times, his work focuses on immigration and visa policy, and on U.S. trade and international economic policy. Mr. Alden is the author of the book The Closing of the American Border: Terrorism, Immigration, and Security Since 9/11 (HarperCollins), which was named a 2009 finalist for the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize for nonfiction writing. Alden has done numerous TV and radio appearances as an analyst on political and economic issues, including NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, McLaughlin Group, NPR, the BBC, CNN, and MSNBC. His work has also appeared in Foreign PolicyForeign Affairs, the Japan Times, the San Jose Mercury News, and the Toronto Globe and Mail. Mr. Alden holds a master’s degree in international relations from the University of California, Berkeley, and pursued doctoral studies before returning to a journalism career. He also has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of British Columbia.

usmanahmedUsman Ahmed is the Head of Global Public Policy at PayPal Inc. His work covers a variety of issues including financial services regulation, innovation, international trade, and entrepreneurship. He has given talks on these subjects at conferences and universities around the world and has published in the World Economic Forum Global Information Technology Report, Journal of World Trade, and the Michigan Journal of International Law. Ahmed is also an Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law School where he teaches courses on international law and policy issues related to the Internet. Prior to PayPal, Usman worked at a number of policy think tanks in the Washington DC area focusing on good governance issues. Ahmed earned his JD from University of Michigan, his MA from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, and his BA from University of Maryland.

alhadefJoseph H. Alhadeff (@OracleGov) is the Vice President for Global Public Policy and Chief Privacy Strategist for Oracle Corporation, the world’s leading supplier of information management software and hardware. Mr. Alhadeff is responsible for coordinating and managing Oracle’s global privacy and public policy issues. In addition to his role at Oracle, Mr. Alhadeff serves as the BIAC Chair to the OECD CDEP Committee and Chairs the International Chamber of Commerce’s Digital Economy Commission. In the US, Mr. Alhadeff chairs the Digital Economy Committee for the US India Business Council; is Vice Chair of the USCIB’s Information Policy Committee; US Co-chair of the TABC IT Committee and Chairs the Malaysia Committee and Co-chairs the IT Committee of the US-ASEAN Business Council. Mr. Alhadeff also serves as the ICC-BASIS Representative to the IANA Transition Coordination Group. Prior to joining Oracle, Mr. Alhadeff was General Counsel and Vice President for Electronic Commerce for the US Council for International Business (USCIB) in New York. Alhadeff holds an M.B.A. in management and information systems from New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business and a J.D. from Boston University School of Law, and a B.A. from Oberlin College.

kilicBurcu Kilic (@burcuno) is an expert on legal, economic and political issues surrounding intellectual property law & policy, trade, development and innovation. She provides technical and legal assistance to governments and civil society groups around the world and promotes their participation in international rule making. She has performed research and written extensively on these subjects. She completed her Ph.D. at Queen Mary, University of London as a School of Law Fellow, where she taught International and Comparative Patent Law and Policy. She holds Masters Degrees from University of London and Stockholm University in Intellectual Property Law and Law and Information Technology and a law degree from Ankara University. She is also a SARChI Research Fellow at Institute for Economic Research on Innovation, Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa.

Organizer (and Panelist)

susanDr. Susan Ariel Aaronson (@AaronsonSusan) is a Research Professor at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs and the former Minerva Chair at the National War College. Aaronson’s research examines the relationship between economic change and human rights. She is currently directing projects on digital trade and digital rights, repression and civil conflict, and whistleblowers as human rights advocates. Her work has been funded by major international foundations including MacArthur, Ford, and Rockefeller, governments such as the Netherlands, US, and Canada, the UN, ILO, World Bank, and US corporations including Ford Motor and Levi Strauss. Dr. Aaronson is the author of six books and numerous articles on trade, human rights, digital trade, corruption, and globalization. Dr. Aaronson is a member of Working Group 2 of the Freedom Online Coalition (24 governments working on digital rights), the Advisory Board for Human Rights Under Pressure (a doctoral program funded by the German and Israeli government to teach human rights)and Business and Human Aaronson is also the Director of the eBay Policy Scholars and is working with Professor Esther Brimmer to develop a new international affairs curriculum on international Internet issues for graduate schools of foreign affairs.